How To Assemble A Saxophone (Easy!)

how to assemble a saxophone

Are you struggling to put your saxophone together?

Do you want to make sure you have the basics of assembling a sax down and avoiding a cracked reed?

When band students put their instruments together for the first time, it’s always a little scary. While you won’t break things easily, you may put it on wrong and feel embarrassed. 

This is true for new sax players as well, whether you’re in sixth grade or sixty. It always helps to have a reference. 

We’ve got you covered here with this guide on saxophone assembly. 

What Are The Parts Of A Saxophone I Need To Know?

For this guide, here is a brief description of the parts you’ll need to know. 

There may be links to a part that may come separate (these may also be affiliate links, which means we earn a small commission at no extra cost to you!). 

  • Saxophone Body – This is the main part of the saxophone.
  • Bell – The bell is the larger hole where the sounds come out. It’s approached by a curve in the body of the sax. 
  • Saxophone Neck – This is a separate piece of the sax with a single curve in it. It connects the mouthpiece to the body of the saxophone. 
  • Keys – The keys are the “buttons” you press down to change the notes or pitch. When you press keys, small pads connected to these keys are lowered or raised to cover or uncover holes changing the pitch of your sax. 
  • Neck Strap – The neck strap is what it sounds like. This goes around your neck and helps distribute the weight of the saxophone. 
  • Mouthpiece – The mouthpiece is where you place the reed and connects to the neck. When you blow on the mouthpiece, it creates a vibration that turns into specific sounds and pitches through the sax’s body. The mouthpiece is critical in determining the tone of your sax. 
  • Reed – Reeds are pieces of wood (usually) that attach to the mouthpiece. When you blow on the mouthpiece, the reed vibrates the air, creating sound. 

Video For How To Assemble A Saxophone

Step By Step How To Set Up A Saxophone

Note: These steps are for putting the saxophone together after the mouthpiece and reed are on. For more info on this, check out this guide on how to put a reed on a saxophone mouthpiece.  

#1 Put The Mouthpiece Cap Over The Reed 

The first thing you do is put the mouthpiece cap over your mouthpiece and reed. 

This protects the mouthpiece and the reed from getting chipped as you put it on. 

Students should always put the mouthpiece caps on any time they aren’t playing the saxophone and moving around.

Mouthpieces are pricey, so you don’t want to break one. 

#2 Adjust The Neck Strap Length

Now you need to adjust your neck strap length. 

The exact procedure of this depends on the neck strap you have, but most of the time, it’s the same. 

Gently use a pulling motion on one end of the strap while sliding the plastic clip closer to or away from the end to lengthen or shorten it. 

Put the neck strap around your neck and adjust. 

A good rule of thumb for length is to let the clip rest between the bottom of your sternum and belly button. 

You’ll adjust more specifically later. 

#3 Sit And Pick Up The Saxophone By Its Bell

Have a seat in a chair, especially in you’re new, and open your case. 

Grasp the sax firmly by the bell, and don’t grab any of the keys. 

Place the curve of the bell on your right knee with the bell on the bottom and the neck opening on the top. 

#4 Check Position (Keys Away, Bell To The Left)

Make sure the keys are facing out and away from you. If it’s not, you may have the sax backward. 

Also, check the opening to the neck and the bell are facing to the left and across your body. 

#5 Attach The Neck Strap

Halfway down the back of the saxophone (which is now the top as it sits on your leg) is a circular clip. 

Attach your neck strap here. If it’s pulling on your neck while it’s resting on your leg, lengthen your neck strap. 

#6 Loosen The Neck Screw

Now, loosen the neck screw near the opening where the neck goes in. 

Don’t loosen it a lot or take it out. Just enough to the neck will slide in. 

#7 Insert The Neck And Adjust

Put the non-corked end of the neck into the body of the sax by using a pushing and twisting motion slightly from side to side until it’s pushed in all the way. 

Since the musical instrument is resting on your leg, you’ll want the neck to point straight up into the air. 

For advanced folks, this has to be straight to make sure the octave key works. 

#8 Tighten Neck Screw

Retighten the neck screw until the neck doesn’t move quickly on its own. 

Don’t use a lot of pressure; too much pressure may break the screw! 

Congrats! You’ve mastered putting this woodwind instrument together, and now you need to learn how to hold a saxophone the right way. Click the link to check out our guide. 

You may now take the mouthpiece cap off the reed if you’re ready to play.

By the way…

If you’re looking for affordable online saxophone lessons for beginners, there are number of great course on Udemy to check out. In my opinion, the Alto Saxophone Lessons For Beginners course is the best for new players.

Final Thoughts

Learning how to assemble a saxophone isn’t hard, but you do need to make sure you follow the proper steps and get everything aligned. 

This is a popular musical instrument and a ton of fun to play, so make sure you get off on the right foot by putting it together correctly and protecting the fragile parts like the mouthpiece and reed.  

Zach VanderGraaff

Zach VanderGraaff is a K-5 music teacher with Bay City Public Schools in Michigan. He's a Past-President of the Michigan Kodaly Educators and Executive Secretary of the Midwest Kodaly Music Educators Association.

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